Multi-million pound improvement plans for the A259 between Littlehampton and Bognor Regis have been submitted to the Government as a ‘top priority’.
It is one of ten schemes, each costing between £20m and £50m, which were agreed by Transport for the South East (TfSE), a new regional body which brings together local authorities, business groups and the transport industry to speak with one voice on the region’s transport needs.
The A259 improvements, between Flansham and Wick, would aim to relieve congestion and safety hotspots and improve the attractiveness of the route as an alternative to using the A27 at Arundel or other rural shortcuts through the South Downs National Park.
The report summarising the priority schemes explains how the single-carriageway section of the A259 is already congested at peak hours and will be unable to cater for traffic demand once local plan housing and commercial developments are completed.
Meanwhile there have been 58 injury collisions in the last five years.
Plans for the Lyminster bypass have also been included as one of ten priority schemes.
The northern half of the new route being delivered by West Sussex County Council was approved in March, with the southern portion constructed by developers building new homes in Littlehampton.
The report says: “Delay caused by the level crossing leads to unreliable and long journey times for people using the route and poor air quality for local residents. The problems are compounded by the existing alignment, which has several tight bends and local accesses, making the route a significant constraint on future development in the area.
“Due in part to poor transport access, the Littlehampton area is one of the underperforming areas of the West Sussex economy. The A284 Lyminster Bypass will support the growth of this area and is necessary for investment in Littlehampton area.”
The work follows a request from Government in December 2018 for regions to agree their priorities for improving the Major Road Network (MRN), which comprises the country’s busiest and most economically important local authority ‘A’ roads.
This excludes roads such as the A27, which are the responsibility of Highways England.
Shortlisted schemes for the South East were assessed against a range of national criteria as well as Transport for the South East’s strategic objectives for the region, which focus on sustainable economic growth, improved quality of life and the environment.
They will now go forward for consideration in the 2020-25 National Roads Fund programme.
Roger Elkins, West Sussex County Council’s cabinet member for highways and infrastructure, said: “The two West Sussex schemes are priorities for the county council and a key part of the infrastructure package to support planned growth, and the delivery of new jobs and homes in Arun district.
“Transport for the South East brings together local authorities, including West Sussex County Council, and businesses to see how we can best work together to help shape and deliver our region’s transport priorities. Having a strong transport network is vital for economic growth in the South East and will help to cut congestion and speed up journey times.”
An additional shortlist of potential £50m+ Large Local Major (LLM) schemes are also being assessed for inclusion in the national programme for 2020-25. Transport for the South East intends to submit its top priority LLM schemes to the Department for Transport in the autumn.
Also this autumn, the organisation will publish its draft transport strategy for public consultation. Looking at the period up to 2050, the draft strategy will include a focus on the schemes, initiatives and broader transport policies needed to reduce congestion, improve air quality and mitigate the impacts of climate change while enabling the region’s economy to grow sustainably.
The A259 improvements and Lyminster bypass plans are not the only highways upgrades currently in progress.
Earlier this year the county council held a consultation on a new A29 bypass. This would run east of Woodgate, Eastergate and Westergate.
Meanwhile just last week WSCC unveiled a £26million funding package for a major improvement scheme for the A259 between Littlehampton and Angmering.
The project will see the existing 2km single carriageway dualled as well as new cycling and pedestrian facilities provided.